Quarantine (film, 2008)


A review from Death Ray #18 of the US  [• REC] remake.

I hate shaky-cam found footage films. Not because of any aesthetic objection, but because they trigger waves of horrible nausea engendered by motion sickness. I suffer the same problem playing FPS computer games, although oddly I don’t really struggle too much with sea sickness, and am unaffected by car and air sickness. But shaky cam footage, bleurgh. I discovered this when I went to see The Blair Witch Project, and was forced to spend the whole time looking away from the screen.  So, it’s an unpleasant surprise for me when I pick up a film for review without checking for this technique. Still, I manfully soldier on. I deserve some kind of medal.

THREE STARS

Writers: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle, Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo, Paco Plaza

Director: John Erik Dowdle

Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez

 Callous FEMA officials doom a cross-section of US society by locking them in an apartment building to prevent an outbreak of shaky-cam sickness.

Originally made as [• REC] in Spain, Quarantine is a film that ticks many ‘yet another…’ boxes: yet another remake, yet another (sort of) zombie flick, yet another filmed with first person perspective shaky cam.

It starts out with a bit of promise, chirpy newsgirl Angela Vidal is tailing a bunch of LA firefighters on one of their average night shifts. The first act sets the scene with the young reporter eager for a call out. She gets her wish, and finds herself trapped in an apartment block that’s been contaminated by a mysterious, rabies-like disease. It’s zombies within and trigger happy government officials without. There is no escape.

The first person perspective makes for some taut moments, especially when those trapped in the building − a mixture of residents, cops, firefighters −  begin to realise what’s happening. But there’s not much story to it. The cast’s solid performances do not follow the naturalism of the camerawork, undermining the attempt at cinema verite. Ultimately it devolves into a shrieking girl running past shambling zombies in scenes reminiscent of arcade games like House of the Dead, before we achieve our finale in a basement where the truth is revealed in a very Blair Witchy way.

“I don’t like being sick…” says one of those trapped at one point, well, neither do I. If you suffer from motion sickness, give this film a miss. Take nausea out of the equation and you have a far from original but competently done shocker.

 

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